Into the Spotlight tells the story of the Pebble children: Mabel, Marigold and Morris. They live in Pebble Theatre with Bam (Brilliant Aunt Maude) and Lydia, but when they learn that The Pebble Theatre is in danger, is there a way that the children can help to save their home?
This book was not what I expected in that I thought this was going to be a retelling of Ballet Shoes, but actually it seems that way to begin with and then you realise that this book is inspired by Ballet Shoes and is set within the same world, in the sense that in this reality the Fossil sisters really lived. I actually found that this was better than the retelling that I expected, and I loved the idea of the Fossil sisters being real, inspiring women.
Carrie weaves many ideas and themes into this novel in clever ways. She addresses dreams and passions, boys who want to pursue the arts, mental health, being a writer, family and more. I think that she chooses really important subjects to talk to children about through this novel and she does so in an accessible way.
The characters in the novel are well-crafted and each had a clear personality, which I loved. I felt like I got to know them and rooted for each of the children as they went on a personal journey.
Using her knowledge of the theatre industry, Carrie is also able to impart some information about how theatre works and what goes on backstage. This was interesting and would definitely appeal to children interested in the arts or who enjoy going to the theatre.
Overall, I loved this novel. Having read and watched Ballet Shoes years ago, this novel felt familiar, nostalgic and yet refreshing and new. For me, this heightened the emotion of the novel, but you could also read this without knowing Ballet Shoes (although that is a great book too, so I recommend that one as well).
I definitely recommend this novel and I think it would be a great gift to buy for any young people in your life, although I recommend it to readers of any age too.